CHICAGO (CBS) — If you’ve been dinged by the city for not buying a vehicle sticker, relief is on the way for late fees and tickets that can quickly pile up for scofflaws.
The city has announced an amnesty program for drivers who haven’t purchased their sticker yet, and a chance to get some of their tickets wiped out.
The mayor’s office announced, beginning Tuesday, drivers will have a chance to purchase a city vehicle sticker without any late fees if they haven’t got one yet. Motorists have until the end of October to buy a city sticker without any back charges.
Then, starting Nov. 15, drivers who have a sticker can apply for a chance to get three city sticker tickets forgiven. Drivers can apply online at www.Chicago.gov/citystickerdebtrelief.
“Today marks a fresh start and a historic first step for Chicago residents who have struggled to get from underneath the grip of crushing ticket debt,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot stated in a news release.
To take advantage of the city sticker amnesty program, drivers can purchase a sticker online, at any Chicago City Clerk’s office or Chicago Finance Department location, or at one of six mobile sticker sites that will be set up next month:
• Wednesday, Oct. 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Taylor Lauridsen Park, 704 W. 42nd St.,
• Saturday, Oct. 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at George Washington High School, 3535 E. 114th St.,
• Thursday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway,
• Friday, Oct. 18, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Austin Town Hall Park, 5610 W Lake St.
• Saturday, Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Foster Park, 1440 W. 84th St.,
• Saturday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Douglas Park, 1401 S. Thompson Dr.
Lightfoot and City Clerk Anna Valencia have said too many drivers end up in debt from parking tickets, and ushered through a series of reforms to the city’s fines and fees earlier this month.
“Our goal has always been to build a Chicago that works for all of our residents,” Valencia said in a statement.
Last week, the City Council approved the mayor’s reforms to the city sticker program, as well as other changes to fines and fees, including:
• Ending the practice of automatically suspending driver’s licenses for non-moving violations.
• Reinstating the 15-day grace period to renew a city vehicle sticker before issuing a ticket, and the 30-day grace period to purchase a sticker before facing a penalty.
• No longer doubling the $200 fine for not renewing a city vehicle sticker; the city currently doubles fines after 83 days.
• Halting the practice of issuing multiple tickets on the same day or consecutive days for vehicle sticker violations.
• Creating a six-month ticket payment plan open to every driver with unpaid fines, and granting more time to motorists facing financial hardship.
• Allowing drivers whose cars have been booted for unpaid fines a 24-hour extension to either pay their fines in full or enter into a payment plan before their car is towed to the pound.
The mayor has said far too often low-income and minority drivers have their cars impounded, and sold for scrap, because they can’t afford to pay their tickets and get their car out of the pound. She said many people who end up with their cars impounded then can’t get to work to be able to pay off their debt.
Lightfoot also noted Cook County leads the nation in Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings, with many of those cases tied to unpaid debt to the city.
Although the city will be giving up millions of dollars in revenue from the penalties being eliminated or reduced, the mayor’s office has said it expects the changes to be revenue neutral, by encouraging more drivers to pay tickets and fines if the penalties aren’t as severe and it’s easier to get on a payment plan.